Look out – it’s now much more expensive to challenge the Washington State Department of Licensing’s (DOL) suspension of your license if you’re charged with DUI. The DOL recently raised the cost of an administrative hearing from $200 to $375.
Some background is necessary: in the past, defendants charged with alcohol-related driving crimes such as Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Physical Control, or Minor Driving After Consuming Alcohol (Minor DUI) had a reasonable opportunity to save their driver’s licenses from getting suspended. This “opportunity” was given by applying for a DOL hearing before a Hearing Examiner within 20 days of being arrested. The Hearing Examiner looks at (1) whether the stop was lawful, (2) whether there was enough evidence to arrest for DUI, (3) whether the defendant was given their Implied Consent Warnings under RCW 46.20.308, and (4) whether the defendant BAC’d at over .08 or refused the breath test.
Competent attorneys representing DUI defendants at these hearings stood the chance of stopping the automatic suspension/revocation of the client’s driver’s license (there’s LOTS of caselaw and WAC provisions surrounding this area of law).
The hearing used to cost only $200. Now it’s $375. This is almost DOUBLE the cost.
My opinion? The DOL appears to be discouraging people from seeking an administrative hearing. This law is a veiled attempt to prohibit the due process rights of people charged – and not yet convicted – of DUI. In other words, the DOL simply wants defendants to forego their right to a DOL hearing and install an IID.
Also, if we look at the passage of this law in conjunction with the increased monitoring of Ignition Interlock Devices IID’s (starting January 1, 2013, IID’s now require cameras), we can safely opine the WA Legislature is cracking down on DUI defendants. Indeed, a recent informal survey of National DUI attorneys confirmed that Washington State has the highest administrative costs for a DOL hearing and at least one state grants these hearings for FREE.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.